I have a dream...
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cesar Chavez
Vision, Wisdom, and Teachings

Cesar Chavez, with the talented help of Dolores Huerta and others, organized the farm workers in California and the Southwest in the 1960s. He based his organizing campaign on the values of faith, courage, truth, self-sacrifice, justice, respect and nonviolence, values taught by Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Chavez had confidence that great things could be accomplished if these basic values were followed. Thus, the phrase “Si, se Puede” (Yes, it can be done) became popular during his campaign.

Commitment

“You are here to discuss a matter which is of extreme importance to yourselves, your families and all the community…We Mexicans here in the United States, as well as all other farm laborers, are engaged in another struggle for the freedom and dignity which poverty denies us. But it must not be a violent struggle, even if violence is used against us…Tonight we must decide if we are to join our fellow workers in this great labor struggle.”

The Effectiveness of Nonviolence

“If someone commits violence against us, it is much better - if we can - not to react against the violence but to react in such a way as to get closer to our goal… People don't like to see a nonviolent movement subjected to violence, and there's a lot of support across the country for nonviolence. That's the key point we have going for us. We can turn the world if we can do it nonviolently.”

Means and Ends

“There is no such thing as means and ends. Everything that we do is an end in itself that we can never erase. That is why we must make all our actions the kind we would like to be judged on…That is why we will not let ourselves be provoked by our adversaries into behaving hatefully.”

The Justice of Our Cause

“Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are rich and powerful, and they have many allies in high places. We are poor. Our allies are few. But we have something the rich do not own. We have our own bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons.”

Finding Life by Giving One's Life

“When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.”

Finding Oneself

“Ninety five percent of the strikers lost their homes and their cars. But I think in losing those worldly possessions they found themselves, and they found that only through dedication, through serving mankind and, in this case, serving the poor and those who were struggling for justice, only in that way could they really find themselves.”

The Truest Act of Courage

“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men!”

Real Change

“The real change comes about when men really want it.”

Need for a Cultural Revolution

“We need a cultural revolution. And we need a cultural revolution among ourselves not only in art but also in the realm of the spirit. As poor people and immigrants, all of us have brought to this country some very important things of the spirit... We must never forget that the human element is the most important thing we have - if we get away from this, we are certain to fail.”

How History Will Judge

“History will judge societies and governments - and their institutions - not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless.”

Resistance to War

“It is now clear to me that the war in Vietnam is gutting the soul of our nation. Of course we know the war to be wrong and unjustifiable, but today we see that it has destroyed the moral fiber of the people... Our resistance to this, and all war, stems from a deep faith in nonviolence. We have to acknowledge that violent warfare between opposing groups - be it over issues of labor or race - is not justifiable. Violence is like acid - it corrodes the movements dedicated to justice.”